Speaking at a London press conference Medvedev said that the flow to Europe had dropped from 225 million cubic metres to 40 million cubic metres.
The shutdown has been verified by Austrian and Slovakian transport operators, according to Medvedev, who warned that the falling pressure in transit pipelines combined with freezing temperatures across central Europe was creating significant physical risk to pipeline infrastructure.
"The situation continues to deteriorate, though we're doing everything to avoid problems in pipelines and at compressor stations," said Medvedev. "It's now not just a question of commercial risk but also technological risk. We are facing this challenge together with our European partners. We have all become hostages of the transit company [Ukraine's Naftogaz]. Our engineers are working with our European colleagues to ensure the gas transport system will continue to function but conditions are not easy."
Medvedev stated that alternative transport routes through countries like Belarus were now at full capacity. European countries such as Turkey and Romania reported huge cuts in gas imports received from Russia, while Naftogaz stated that Germany and Poland were among other importers likely to be affected.
Austria's OMV, meanwhile reported a 90% reduction in Russian flows through its Baumgarten hub, through which approximately one third of Russia's annual gas exports to Western Europe travel. 51% of Austria's 8bcm annual domestic consumption comes from Russia, and shortfalls in gas deliveries to Austrian end users are being filled by gas from storage.
Despite Gazprom's claims, Naftogaz stated that Russia was to blame for the reduction in supplies. Naftogaz stated that "in a case where European users receive less volumes of natural gas, all claims must be directed to Gazprom", adding that Gazprom "has deliberately refused the implementation of its obligations to its European partners".
EU officials have moved to end the dispute, with delegations today meeting with Gazprom and Naftogaz officials. However, Medvedev said today: "We don't need intermediaries in commercial negotiations."
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